Essential Tips for Choosing Legal Practice Management Software

Here are some helpful tips and questions to help navigate the maze of choosing the legal practice management software most suited to your firm.

Choosing a Practice Management Software is a big decision for any law firm. You need to carefully consider what matters to you, what you can’t live without and what are the deal breakers.

It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Get it right and it will revolutionise your business, get it wrong and you pay for it for a very long time!

You need to really think about the needs of the business, your expectations, and your long-term goals.

Yes, there will be some disruption during the cutover, but if you make the cutover a high priority when the time comes then the disruption will be over and done with quickly.

This list is extensive; however, I feel the commitment you are about to make with a practice management system is like a marriage, you need to be really sure!

Setting up a new law firm? You should check out my 14 Tips for Setting Up a New Law Firm.

What matters most to you when choosing a Legal Practice Management Software?

Rank each of the following features:

  1. Efficient Billing
  2. Integration with other programs
  3. Document management
  4. Template generation
  5. Reduction of financial data entry
  6. Financial results at your fingertips
  7. Access from your phone – what will you really use?

Many of us are keen on a practice management app, but how much time would we save drafting letters/documents and creating of bills from our phones?

What is your basis for billing your clients?

Billing clients is an important aspect to consider when choosing legal practice management software. It’s crucial to select software that aligns with your billing preferences, so you can accurately track and invoice your clients without any hassle. Just keep in mind that the right legal practice management software can revolutionize your business, while the wrong one can make your life feel like an endless episode of legal drama.

Fixed fee


Combination of both

Where do you want to work from?  

Choosing the right location for your legal practice management software is like choosing the perfect spot for your dream vacation. Do all locations have good internet?


Client’s office





Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s important to ask the right questions before choosing a legal practice management software that relies on it.

What do you understand about cloud software?

Having software in the cloud means your data is stored on someone else’s computer at an external location.

Advantages can include:

  1. You don’t have to buy expensive servers
  2. They take responsibility for backups
  3. You can work from anywhere that has a decent internet connection

Disadvantages include:

  1. You are relying on a third party to maintain servers and backups
  2. Your data might be stored outside of Australia
  3. You might not be able to get a backup of your data

Questions to ask around cloud hosting:

  1. The speed of the internet at the cloud server location
  2. The security at the cloud server location
  3. Login security to your data
  4. What is the protection against others logging in?
  5. Who has access to your data?
  6. When/how often are the backups done?
  7. How are the backups done?
  8. Where are backups stored?
  9. Can I have a backup of my database?
  10. Can I have a backup of my entire store of documents that I can copy to my own location?
  11. Can I access my documents outside of the software? Are they organised in a way I can easily find them?

Things to consider when choosing Legal Practice Management Software:

  1. Is the trust account compliant?
  2. Am I happy with the user interface?
  3. What can I customise?
  4. What happens when there is a problem?
  5. What do the existing customers think?
  6. Is the trust account and its end-of-month function user-friendly?
  7. Does the time and fee module work with my style of billing?
  8. How easy to use is the billing module?
  9. Does the legal practice management software integrate with an accounting package to provide real-time financial reporting?
  10. Does this system address all my key criteria?
  11. What is missing? What will life be like without that?


  1. Is the system flexible to meet my requirements?
  2. Do I have to squeeze my firm into a rigid frame that might not be how I see my firm?
  3. How can I integrate MY letterhead into the software?
  4. Will my logo appear on their reports?
  5. Can I have customised reports?
  6. Can I have additional reports?
  7. What happens if I want a specific font for all my correspondence?
  8. Does my firm need different lists?
  9. Does my firm operate in a way that requires significantly different custom fields for merging into documents?


  1. Will this system be the basis for my document generation?
  2. If I use another document system like Automio or Smarter Drafter, can I store the documents generated from that system in my new practice management system?
  3. Can I import documents to a file?
  4. Can I mark documents for discovery?
  5. How easy is it to export some or all of the documents on a matter for a discovery or to provide to another law firm or to collate as a brief?

Where to next? 

We are happy to help, however you might also like to consider hiring someone independent like Next Legal in Brisbane to help you find your way through this complex maze.

For a complimentary consultation, click here to make a time with us.

About me

Hi, My name is Karen McDonald, I am a business analyst and accountant with a passion and strong focus on efficient business systems to empower business owners to focus more delivering great value to their clients.

In 2011, I founded Wise Owl Legal Practice Management as a response to seeing so many lawyers caught up with the struggle of old out of date inefficient software. I believe software should lighten your load and empower you to focus on your core mission. As a qualified accountant and tax agent, many of you will know me from my consulting business commenced in 1997, Cascade Consulting Services Pty Ltd (Cascade).

Cascade has helped many businesses, including many law firms, over the last 20+ years, some in the software applications consulting space, others in the accounting and tax practice space as well. Fundamentally in our accounting business, we aim to empower our clients to better run their administration more efficiently; eliminate redundant processes, and understand their finances and lighten the load of compliance.

If you would like to learn more about how I could help your law firm become more efficient, please book a discovery call with me at or contact me at [email protected] or contact me by cell phone / mobile phone at +61 40 999 2317.

Mostly I am in GMT +10 time zone.


First Published 17 January 2019

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Hello!  I am Karen McDonald, founder of Cascade Accounting & Tax and Wise Owl Legal Practice Management Software.  I have also been referred to as “The Wise Owl” Today I had a law firm client phone up my accounting practice.  Her trust account was out of balance....